12 days

Japan Revealed

Japan Revealed

Nijo Castle - former home of the Tokugawa shoguns

The impenetrable Himeji castle

The machiya and tsuboniwa of Kyoto

The world's largest wooden structure of Todai-ji

UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Kyoto

The Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji Temple

Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's Toshogu Shrine

Ninjas and kendo in Kyoto: stick fighting for all the family.

Okunoin Cemetery's stone-cut statues

Ryoan-ji Zen garden

Shinto shrines

Trip rating
  • Japan, a country steeped in mythical traditions and modern wonders. This journey uncovers the highlights of this fascinating country. Like the history, the country is varied and diverse: from the ancient cities like Kyoto to one of the holiest mountains in Japan, Koya-San; from the historically relevant city of Hiroshima and on to the beautifully preserved village of Tsumago; countryside backdropped by mountains, lakes and waterfalls to the bustling futuristic city of Tokyo. This tour gradually reveals the rich variety of the country as we visit temples, castles, shrines and holy mountains while still mixing with locals and experiencing the real Japan as we spend nights in family run ryokans and a mountain-top shukubo temple lodging. Come on this magical journey and experience all that Japan has to offer.

    Why we love it

    • Japan, a country steeped in mythical traditions and modern wonders. This journey uncovers the highlights of this fascinating country.
    • Like the history, the country is varied and diverse: from the ancient cities like Kyoto to one of the holiest mountains in Japan, Koya-San.
    • And from the historically relevant city of Hiroshima and on to the beautifully preserved village of Tsumago; countryside backdropped by mountains, lakes and waterfalls to the futuristic city of Tokyo.
    • This tour gradually reveals the rich variety of the country as you visit temples, castles, shrines and holy mountains while mixing with locals and experiencing the real Japan.
    • Spend a night in a family run ryokan and a mountain-top shukubo temple lodging in Koya-San
    • Come on this magical journey and experience all that Japan has to offer.

    Itinerary

    Day 1-3 - Kyoto

    • The tour starts in Kyoto. In the evening you meet your tour leader and the other group members for an initial briefing followed (for those who wish) by a simple dinner at a nearby local restaurant.
    • This morning an orientation tour takes us to some of Kyoto’s more important sites, including: the imposing and opulent Nijo Castle – formerly home of the Tokugawa shoguns and, nestling at the foot of Kyoto’s north-western hills, the extravagantly decorated Kinkakuji temple, which was immortalised in Yukio Mishima’s novel “The Golden Pavilion”. From here it is also possible to walk or drive the short distance to Ryoan-ji, perhaps Japan’s most famous Zen garden. We finish off at Kyoto’s handicraft centre noted for among things a fine selection of woodblock prints.
    • The rest of the afternoon is free, for further exploration. Recommended is a gentle stroll through the nearby eastern hills along the ‘Path of Philosophy’ that links Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, with Nanzen-ji Temple. This walk can be extended south through well-preserved ‘old town’ areas to Kiyamizu-dera (Temple of Clear Water) from where there is a justifiably famous view across a wooded gorge toward Kyoto. Also recommended, for those visiting in Spring, is a visit to the theatre for a presentation of Miyako Odori (the Cherry Blossom Dance) performed by elaborately dressed maiko (apprentice geisha).
    • In the early evening, there will be an introductory briefing followed by dinner at one of the city’s many delightful restaurants, situated near the new and architecturally astounding railway station.
    • Kyoto is a city that lends itself to walking, and there are numerous possibilities for exploration during this day at leisure in the city. Close to our hotel the architecturally impressive Higashi Honganji temple and the almost surreal Sanjusangendo, home to 1001 statues of Kannon, (the bodhisattva of compassion whose name, incidentally, was later taken up by the camera company Canon) – both make for an interesting visit. Also nearby is Japan’s largest pagoda at Toji.
    • Another recommendation is to take a walk in the wooded hills of Inari Mountain, famous for its Shinto ‘fox temple’ and atmospheric tunnels of red torii gates. In the late afternoon there will be a short walking tour of Gion – the geisha district – with its many old teahouses, some of them mentioned in the widely acclaimed novel “Memoirs of a Geisha”. At the end of the tour a good idea is to take traditional dinner in one of the many restaurants that occupy this exciting area.
    • INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Kyoto city tour
    Hotel Granvia Kyoto or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Koya San

    • As we travel on public transport for the next few days we will forward our big luggage to Hiroshima and take a smaller day pack with us to Koya San.
    • Today we travel by train to Koya San on a journey which, at least in its latter stages, travels through some of the finest scenery in all Japan. The last leg of the journey takes us on a mountain road rising almost to the heavens and certainly to a world very different from the one we have left behind.
    • 3000 feet above sea-level Mount Koya, in similarity with Mt Athos in Greece, is home to scores of monasteries, the first of which was founded by Kobo Daishi in AD816. The most impressive sight on Mount Koya is without doubt the massive and mysterious Okunoin cemetery, resting place of many of Japanese history’s most famous personages. Some 200,000 stone statues, wooden totems and other, sometimes bizarre, memorials (including a rocket that marks the site of a mausoleum interring the workers of an aerospace company!) lie throughout this moss-laden forest. At the centre of it all, and the reason that this is such a popular resting place for those who could afford the privilege of proximity, is the mausoleum of Japan’s greatest saint, Kobo Daishi. According to popular belief Kobo Daishi never actually died but instead, in AD835, went into a state of catatonic meditation within the mausoleum. One day, upon the advent of the future Buddha Maitreya (Jap. Miroku), it is believed Kobo Daishi will reawaken to lead all humanity to salvation! The cemetery is particularly atmospheric around dawn or dusk.
    • After visiting the more interesting of the mountain’s sights, we make our way to the comfortable shukubo temple lodgings that will be our home for the night.
    • INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Koya San tour
    Rengejoin, Koyasan
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 5-6 - Hiroshima

    • Fortified by a delicious temple breakfast you will return by cable railway to Gokurabashi and make your way to Osaka where you will board your first Bullet Train of the trip for your journey to Hiroshima.
    • As you speed your way south you will stop en route and pay a visit to Japan’s most impressive samurai Castle at Himeiji. This castle was once featured in the James Bond film “You Only Live Twice”. It is packed with innovative defensive techniques perhaps one of the reasons why it was never captured.
    • You will spend the night at a city centre hotel close to Hiroshima’s Peace Park.
    • The next morning you will visit the A-Bomb Museum and Peace Memorial Park, both of which stand testimony to the fateful day in August 1945 when Hiroshima was chosen as target for the first ever wartime use of the atomic bomb.
    • In the afternoon you might like to head for the enchanting island of Miyajima, which you will reach after a short ferry ride across the Inland Sea. The island is home to the venerable Shinto shrine of Itsukushima, famous for its huge vermilion gate or torii which rises majestically out of the sea. At high tide it is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan. The size and physical landscape of Miyajima makes it an ideal place for walking. There is the lovely Momaji Park (known as Maple Valley), from where it is possible to walk or take a cable car up to the top of Mt. Misen. The summit is home to a colony of wild monkeys, and provides fine, sweeping views over western Honshu and the island-studded Inland Sea.Also of note is Daisho-in Temple.
    • Please note that in busy times passengers of the same sex may be required to share triple and quad rooms in the ryokan.
    • INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Himeji Castle, Hiroshima Peace Museum, Miyajima day trip
    Hotel Granvia
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Tsumago

    • We will again forward our larger bags on to Tokyo today to make travelling to Tsumago & Matsumoto easier.
    • Today you will return to the Bullet Train tracks and head north to the mountainous centre of Japan to spend a night in a ryokan near the medieval village of Tsumago. (approx 2.5 hours travel time)
    • Once a post town during the days of the Shogun, Tsumago is the best preserved of the many staging posts along the Edo period Nakasendo Highway. The highway once connected Tokyo with Kyoto and was immortalised in the famous woodblock prints of Hiroshige.
    • INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Naksendo walk
    Hanaya Ryokan, , Tsumago
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 8 - Matsumoto

    • This morning you will have time to explore Tsumago and also have the opportunity to walk along a short section of the Nakasendo Highway towards the next village of Magome.
    • Next you will return to the Bullet Train (Approx 2 hours) and head north to the mountainous centre of Japan and the picturesque castle town of Matsumoto. This afternoon you will stroll through the former merchant district of Nakamachi, where you can find lovely local crafts, treasures and great restaurants.
    • Matsumoto’s atmosphere is surprisingly cosmopolitan, while maintaining its historic charm and tradition. It has pretty streets and friendly people.
    • You will have the option of visiting the city’s most famous site, the Matsumoto Castle, formerly known as Fukashi Castle. It has an elegant black roof and is sometimes nicknamed Crow Castle. It is one of Japan’s four castles to be listed as national treasures.
    Dormy Inn, Matsumoto
    Breakfast

    Day 9-12 - Tokyo

    • In the morning we make our way by local and then Bullet Train to Japan’s amazing capital, Tokyo, and our centrally-located hotel where we will be based for the next three nights.
    • Tokyo is well-known for its bustling energy and futuristic architecture. However, it also has a gentler side, and its citizens often reveal themselves – particularly outside of working hours – to be some of the friendliest of any capital city in the world. There are also many vestiges of the past, with historic temples and shrines still to be found in some of the most unexpected places, as well as an abundance of parks and gardens which are particularly exquisite in spring when the cherry trees and azaleas are in bloom.
    • Today we have a varied, full-day tour of the city beginning in the lively Senso-ji temple district of Asakusa, with its many interesting craft and souvenir stalls.
    • After lunch we are afforded an alternative view of Tokyo as we relax on a short cruise down the Sumida River.
    • Our boat drops us off at the delightful Hama Rikyu gardens where we have time to stroll along paths that were once the sole preserve of the shogun.
    • Later we make our way to the shopping district of Ginza where, depending on the theatre schedule, we have the chance to see a short performance of Kabuki, one of Japan’s more spectacular performing arts.
    • The next day has been left free for further independent exploration or shopping. There are endless opportunities for sightseeing in and around Tokyo; in the east of the city the districts of Shibuya and Harajuku – a magnet for the city’s breathtakingly trendy youth – are particularly interesting, as is the important Meiji Jingu Shrine.
    • In Shinjuku the city’s highest skyscrapers offer panoramic views that on clear days give great views of Mount Fuji. The area is also home to Kabuki-cho, the Soho (but more so!) of Tokyo.
    • Ueno is also worth a visit particularly for its park which is home to the impressive National museum. Another great museum which gives insight into old time Tokyo is the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku.
    • In the evening, the group come together over dinner to bid Japan sayonara and farewell.
    • The tour concludes in the morning on day 12
    • INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Tokyo city tour, Sumida boat trip
    Hotel Niwa or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • An experienced, English-speaking local Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Authentic Accommodation includes: 6 nights comfortable hotel, 4 nights ryokan, 1 night shukubo (temple lodging)
    • Transport
    • Meals: 11 breakfasts, 3 dinners
    • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass
    • Sightseeing & Entrance fees including: Gion District walk in Kyoto; Himeji & Nijo Castles, Hiroshima Peace Park

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Arrival and departure transfers
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Japan Rail Pass for travel before or after the tour
    • Tips - this is something to consider, and it might be worthwhile speaking to your group about making a group contribution at the end of the trip
    • Daily budget

    Safety Information

    Crime levels are low. It is generally safe to walk about at night and to travel on public transport, but you should maintain the same level of vigilance as you would at home and take sensible precautions. Reports of inappropriate touching or ‘chikan’ of female passengers on commuter trains are fairly common. The police advise that you shout at the perpetrator to attract attention and ask a fellow passenger to call the train staff. The Roppongi entertainment district of Tokyo is considered a higher risk area for crime.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Japan Revealed

    Meryl - Australia, 15 Sep, 2012
    4
    Overall Rating

    I loved the mix of temples, cities and landscapes on this tour. Like previous Peregrine tours I have done, it caters for travellers who do not expect to be carted everywhere in a bus and stay in 4 star hotels. Some of the older people on my tour (over 80 years) found the accommodation unsuitable and they were also struggling with the amount of walking required when sight-seeing. The itinerary on Peregrines website should make this clear.

    Japan Revealed

    Andrew - New Zealand, 15 Sep, 2012
    4
    Overall Rating

    Public transport was used almost exclusively. This was great for seeing the country up close and engaging with the Japanese people who were great, helpful and very honest. The only negative about the tour was that it involved far more walking than I had been lead to believe. This was not a problem for the younger members of the tour but was defintely a problem for the seniors. The brochure descibes the grade as "Culture" which page 11 of the brochure descibes as "There may be a little walking". Well there was more than "a little walking". In some cases we had to walk a mile of more just to see a temple, shrine or castle. I did appreciate staying in a Buddist temple and Ryukans as I expreinced Japanese Culture.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCJR
Start City: Kyoto
End City: Tokyo

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